Joseph R. Biden Jr. will travel on Monday to Houston to meet with the family of George Floyd, a black man whose death at the hands of the police touched off a nationwide outcry over racism and police brutality.
Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, will offer his condolences to members of the Floyd family and will also record a video message for Mr. Floyd’s funeral service on Tuesday, according to a Biden aide. Mr. Biden is not expected to attend the service — given his Secret Service protection, there were concerns about creating a disruption — but he wanted to offer in-person condolences, according to people familiar with the matter.
His trip to Texas comes against a backdrop of enormous protests against police violence and systemic racism that are unfolding across the country, including huge marches on Saturday, and as Mr. Biden is still navigating how to travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak. Until now, his recent public outings have been limited to his home state Delaware and to nearby Philadelphia.
Mr. Biden, the former vice president, has spoken out passionately in recent days about the need to heal racial divisions in the country. He laced into President Trump in a speech last week for fanning the “flames of hate,” and he has advocated a number of new police reforms. While the protests have been largely peaceful, he also nodded to violent clashes between the police and some people in the crowds, as well as looters, urging a “nation enraged” that “we cannot let our rage consume us.”
To many of Mr. Biden’s allies, perhaps his greatest strength is his ability to empathize. His first wife and daughter died in a car accident soon after he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, and his son Beau Biden died of brain cancer five years ago. He has eulogized dozens of prominent figures but has also often used his personal experiences with overcoming grief to connect with voters on the campaign trail who were in mourning.